Saturday, October 15, 2005

Neuberg and Schwäbisch Hall (or why I went Germany and skipped out on Rothenberg)

When I was in Nürnberg, I picked up a flyer for an exhibition called "At the Kaiser´s Pleasure" (Von Kaisers Gnaden) -- feel free to dispute my transation. So I headed south to Neuburg on der Donau a town that happens to be celebrating it´s 500 anniversery this year. Which got me thinking that the next 10-20 years will be good times to visit Germany for those interested in the early 16thC Germany. There should be more general interest in the period which means more accessible information and relevant events. Book your tickets kids!

Neuberg itself was built during the years 1535-45 so it´s a good example of a Reniassance palacial home. It was added to over the years including some mosaic grottos during the mid-17thC.

However the exhibit was wonderful. I arrived just as it opened and while I had to swim through school group after scool group, I was allowed to take pictures (without flash, of course). So some of them are a bit fuzzy, but being able to zoom in on a painting of Kaiser Karl V´s camp and pick up details of camp life that both the art and military historians tend to overlook. Of course, I picked up the exhibition book for non-fuzzy images. In addition to the works they normally have at Neuberg, they borrowed excellent pieces from all over Germany. I was able to look at examples of books from the Munich State Library Archives and some weapons borrowed from the Germanisches National Museum where I had recently been.

The old city is up on a hill and the rest of the town lies below. This makes the old town very quite and easy paced. I had a picnic lunch in the square surrounded by Baroque facaded buildings. While I ate, I looked at my map. It would take me at least an hour and half to get back up to Rothenberg. What I really wanted to do was find the "bone room" of 4000 monks under the St. Micheals church in Schwäbisch Hall. Taking the back roads, I figured I could make Schwäbisch Hall by 4 in time to catch the church still open.

I made to Schwäbisch Hall easily enough, but finding the Altstadt was a bit tricker until I just started going forward, trusting there would be a sign pointing me there. Wow. What can I say about Schwäbisch Hall? It´s beautiful. If you are interested in the 16thC Germany, put this on your list of places to visit. The church was built in stages during the 1400´s and it contains beautiful sculptures and altars pieces.

When I arrived, some children were practicing for a play - Joeseph and his Brother. Imagine walking up a hundred (or so) steps to a great stone church with one seriously pissed off Archangel over the door and hearing a soprano voice echoing out the door. It simply added to the experience. I entered and bought a guide boom. I asked about a bone room under the church, but my German must still need work since I was told, this is it. I decided to make the best of it and looked around. That´s where I found, behind the altar, an iron railing surrounding a large piece of plexiglass on the floor. I had found my monks and some of them were gracious enough to smile for me.

Stepping out of the church and into the light of the western sun, I decided I would stay and walk around some more and explore what alleyways it had to offer. I found a not-so cheap place near the church and explored. I didn´t take many pictures because at one point, I got tired of carrying the camera. So I put it away and watch some students set up backlit sheets across the ruins of some old part of the city and walked the maze of streets until well after dark. In the morning, as the fog lifted from the surrounding river valley, I watched the Saturday morning market get underway in the plaza under the church steps.

1 comment:

  1. The picture of "The Bone Room" is quite creepy....but very interesting. I'm going to see what I can find online to get more information on it, if I can't, please fill me in, okay!!!

    My friend is from Germany and it's like pulling teeth to get him to talk about it...he just tells us to come home with him when he goes hopefully in the next couple of years we can take that trip...reading your blog certainly has me wanting to go!!!

    Be safe, have fun!!!